Eric Behrens loves coaching college basketball.
But not knowing who would coach son Roman next year at Omaha Central is why Behrens will return as the Eagles’ coach after three seasons at Peru State.
“When I left, I never anticipated coming back to coach at Central again, and I thoroughly enjoyed my three years at Peru State,” Behrens said. “But the last two weeks, I took a look at the big picture for me, and it was unexpected that this opening came about.
“At that point, with Roman being there and having a year left, I had to ask myself about him transitioning to a new coach and maybe someone who’s not as familiar with him. I was at Central; I’m a Central alum. At this point, I have some skin in the game with my son still being there. I had to really stop and reflect about what was best moving forward, and I think it’s a good decision for myself and my family.”
Central’s athletic director, Luke Dillon, announced Behrens’ hiring Friday afternoon. Behrens said he interviewed Wednesday for the opening created when Ben Holling — who Central hired as his successor in three years ago — stepped down.
Peru State hired Behrens after he fashioned a 283-62 record in his 13 seasons at Central — he followed his father, Rick, on the Eagles’ bench — with seven state titles in his final nine years.
Peru State went 53-41 with Behrens. The Bobcats made it to the NAIA Division I tournament in 2016, when they were ranked 21st nationally at 22-10.
Behrens said he met with the Bobcats on Thursday to inform them it was possible he was leaving.
“I worked for an outstanding athletic director, Steve Schneider, and our president, Daniel Hanson, has been wonderful,” he said. “We have some great young men there, and I’m a relationship guy. It’s hard walking away from players who I care about.”
He said he loved the college game because he competed against different coaches, coached older players and coached with a shot clock.
“It was a change of pace from what I did for 13 years,” Behrens said. “It allowed me to grow in a different way. I learned a lot and valued the experience.
“I hope I’ve grown as a coach in the last three years and hope I can apply what I’ve learned to a high school team.”
Roman Behrens, a 6-foot guard who has Drake and Wichita State interested, was second-team All-Metro after leading Central to the state tournament for the second straight year by averaging 16 points and 5.6 assists. He will be Central’s only returning starter for his dad’s first year back.
Under Holling, the Eagles had records of 13-10, 18-7 and 19-6. They were in the Class A state tournament the past two years, losing in the first round last year to Omaha Creighton Prep and this year to Kearney.